News In Brief

By , Robert Kilborn, and Judy Nichols

California Gov. Gray Davis (D) met with Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in Washington Tuesday, seeking advice on how to deal with the crisis that puts the state's two major utilities, which report $8 billion in uncollected energy debts, at risk. Emergency public hearings to consider possible electricity rate hikes were set to begin. Raising prices frozen by a 1996 deregulation law, however, won't be easy given charges of price gouging and a jump in forecasted higher profits for the major electricity generators supplying California.

Software engineer Michael McDermott, shown escorted by police above, was formally charged in the shooting deaths of seven co-workers at Edgewater Technology Inc., located in the Boston suburb of Wakefield, Mass. He pleaded not guilty and will be held without bail. The day before, he was arrested as he sat passively, with several weapons, in the company's reception area. Last week McDermott angrily confronted employees in the company's accounting department over the prospect his wages would be garnished because of taxes owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Hazardous weather conditions continued to envelop the southern Plains, with sleet and much colder temperatures creeping toward the South. In the Texas Panhandle, more than a foot of snow led to road closings, as did a mix of rain and sleet in Oklahoma and other areas of Texas. In Arkansas, National Guardsmen were called out to help rescue motorists stranded on icy roads.

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The composite index of leading economic indicators fell 0.2 percent in November, consistent with forecasts that the growth of US economy will slow down in the coming months.

A new law that critics called a Band-Aid fix for prescription drug prices has "serious flaws and loopholes" and won't be implemented by Health and Human Services, Secretary Donna Shalala informed President Clinton in a letter. The law would have allowed US-made drugs to be reimported from Canada, where the government keeps prices down, thus potentially lowering them on the US market.

Four teenagers were arrested on suspicion of carelessly causing a 600-acre fire in Thousand Oaks, Calif., near the Los Angeles and Ventura county line. Fed by a powerful Santa Ana wind, the fire spread to within 100 feet of luxury homes before being contained by more than 600 firefighters.

The Census Bureau will begin to roll out today the results of its 2000 head count, used in determining the number of congressional seats each state receives. (Story, page 2.)

The State Department issued a "travel warning," discouraging travel to Indonesia in the wake of a series of deadly Christmas Eve bombings. The US embassy says it has indications the bombings may continue and that US interests may be targeted.

Actor Jason Robards, who died in Bridgeport, Conn., won back-to-back Academy Awards in the 1970s - first in the Watergate drama "All the President's Men" and then as detective Dashiell Hammett in "Julia." But Robards's true love was the stage, where he was regarded as his generation's leading interpreter of playwright Eugene O'Neill.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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